The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Matthew 22

Mat 22:1

Mat 22: "The Lord continues with his parables, given that the disciples might understand, and that those without spiritual ability, might not. But the parables infuriated the leaders of the community, for they recognised in such sayings a condemnation of themselves and their Judaistic religion. The three groups of Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians put tempting questions to the Lord, enticing him to incriminate himself. But the divine wisdom that the Master developed, enabled him to reply in a way both appropriate and righteous. Only by such a means will his disciples -- and now -- maintain such a firm resolve. Matthew records the [1] Parable of the marriage feast: vv 1-14, and then [2] The Pharisees seek to entangle Jesus: v 15. [3] The Herodians tempt him: vv 16-22. [4] The Sadducees are silenced: vv 23-33. [5] The self-righteous Pharisees are also silenced: vv 34-40. [6] Christ's questions: 'What think ye of Christ?': vv 41-46. This final question previously considered by the apostles (Mat 16:15) is now presented to the Pharisees. As he was the Word made Flesh, the Law and the Prophets in the midst of Israel, the Lord now drew attention to himself as the one they should hear and heed. The argument, based on Psa 110, was irrefutable. 'No man was able to answer him a word,' and the ch concludes with the leaders in dismay and the Lord proven to be superior in understanding. The 'common people heard him gladly' (Mar 12:17). The same is true today: the divine wisdom is not to be found among the learned in this world's philosophy, but is accepted by the humble" (GEM).

Mat 22:4

THEN...: After further preparations, again, he sends out invitations. As if to say, 'After Christ's death and resurrection' -- the table is truly prepared, and all is now really ready! See further notes, this verse.

BUTCHERED: Lit, "sacrificed, offered": cp ideas, Pro 9:2-4; Zep 1:7,8. A sacrifice would be required before guests could be invited to God's meal.

Mat 22:6

THE REST: The ecclesiastical authorities of Israel.

Mat 22:7

V 7: a parenthesis. This is what happened at the end of the story: the destruction of the nation of Israel, and its capital Jerusalem, in AD 70.

Mat 22:11

SEE: "Theoreo": a formal inspection (WWS) by the king, something like being "presented" at court!

WHO WAS NOT WEARING WEDDING CLOTHES: A suitable personalized robe was given by the bridegroom to each invited guest, before he entered the house where the wedding was to be celebrated; these ceremonial robes were kept in an anteroom (Dawn 63:7).

"They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev 7:14).

"Anciently, kings and princes were accustomed to make presents of changes of raiment to their friends and favourites, to refuse to receive which was an expression of highest contempt (2Ki 10:22; Est 6:8; 8:15). It was, of course, expected that such garments would be worn when they came into the presence of the benefactor. The garments worn on festival occasions were chiefly long white robes; and it was the custom of the person who made the feast to prepare such robes to be worn by the guests. This renders the conduct of this man more inexcusable. He came in his common ordinary dress, as he was taken from the highway; and though he had not a garment of his own suitable for the occasion, yet one would have been provided for him, if he had applied for it. His not doing it was expressive of the highest disrespect for the king" (Barnes).

Edersheim (LTJM) cites, as background to this parable, two commonly-known rabbinical parables (from which Jesus may have borrowed, or at least used as his "jumping-off" place): (1) In one parable the king is represented as inviting his subjects to a feast, without, however, fixing the exact time for it. When inviting the guests, the king had told them to wash, anoint, and array themselves in their festive garments. But the foolish assume that they will know well in advance, from the preparation of the food and the arranging of the seats, when the feast was to begin; and so they had gone, the mason to his cask of lime, the potter to his clay, the smith to his furnace, the fuller to his bleaching-ground. But suddenly comes the king's summons to the feast, when the wise appear festively adorned, and the king rejoices over them, and they are made to sit down, eat and drink. But he is angry with the foolish, who appear squalid, unwashed, and unadorned, and are ordered to stand by and look on in anguish, hunger and thirst. (2) The second parable tells of a king who committed to his servants the royal robes. The wise among them carefully laid them by while the foolish put them on when they did their work. After a time the king asked back the robes, when the wise could restore them clean, while the foolish had them soiled. Then the king rejoiced over the wise, and, while the robes were laid up in the treasury, they were bidden go home in peace. But to the foolish he commanded that the robes should be handed over to the fuller, and that they themselves should be cast into prison.

Cp Rev 19:8: The Bride makes herself ready for the wedding, and she is given "fine linen, bright and clean" -- which represents "the righteous acts of the saints". In the Mat 22 parable, all the guests are in the same role as the "Bride" in Rev 19: they are the multitudinous bride -- and the garments they have been "given" are twofold: (a) Their nakedness, or sins, have been covered by the "garment" provided by the Bridegroom (in symbol, this is equivalent to being washed and cleansed with water through the word, etc, in Eph 5:26,27; and/or garments washed white in the blood of the Lamb, in Rev 7:14) [ct this with the fig-leaf coverings, which is all Adam can provide for Eve to cover her nakedness after the original sin!]. (b) But without their own righteous acts, by which their faith is demonstrated to be real (Jam 2:17-26), they would be rejected, because their faith would have been dead.

So it would seem that, in the special wedding garments, there may be two aspects involved: first, a garment which is provided by the host, or bridegroom, or king; and secondly, the need for each invited guest to keep his or her own special garment washed and clean and ready to wear.

Cp generally Judas at the last supper.

Mat 22:12

WITHOUT WEDDING CLOTHES: "These men are blemishes at your love feasts" (Jud 1:12). Note: the servants were not blamed for admitting one to the feast without the proper wedding garment.

The absence of the wedding garment cites Zep 1:8, where the prophet reproves those who are not prepared. We should be clothed with the garments of salvation (Isa 61:10) -- that is the wedding garment!

THE MAN WAS SPEECHLESS: "The day of judgment will be the first occasion in the history of the race when human ingenuity finds itself unable to cook up a plausible excuse" (WGos 571).

"A record of Christ shutting the mouths of His opposition... [see vv 12,22,33,34,36...] We have in this chapter an illustrious specimen of the wisdom of Jesus. He successfully met the snares of His mighty and crafty foes, and with infinite ease confounded them all -- scribes, chief priests, Sadducees, Herodians, Pharisees, and the multitude alike. No art of man could confound him. Never was teaching more clear, never was wisdom more triumphant. The lesson of this chapter? -- Do not reject the "stone" of God's providing, the head or key stone of the building. For rejecting what Jesus Christ stands for, is to invite him to grind us to powder (v 44), like the chaff of the summer threshing floors (Dan 2:35), and to be removed forever, along with the entire system that makes up the present 'Kingdom of Men' " (CY).

Mat 22:13

Notice the two classes of "disobedient": (1) those who reject the invitation, and even kill the messengers (vv 5,6), and (2) those who actually come to the feast, but are unprepared (here). The first class are destroyed, along with their city (v 7), while the second class are "cast out" or rejected from the banquet.


WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH: Mat 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30.

Mat 22:14

Illustrated Jdg 7:3,7; Rev 17:14.

Mat 22:15

TO TRAP HIM IN HIS WORDS: But cleverness is no match for godliness.

Mat 22:17

IS IT RIGHT TO PAY TAXES TO CAESAR OR NOT?: "One of the great tragedies of... every age is that men and women are so preoccupied with their real or imagined rights and privileges that the great revelations of God which have power to transform their whole lives are unheeded. It is an evil which can have its victims in the Household. At times when the rights and wrongs of an issue are the subject of heated discussion it is always wise to pause and listen to the voice of Christ. He can restore the true perspective" (MP 122).

IS IT RIGHT TO PAY TAXES TO CAESAR OR NOT?: A "no" would brand Jesus as rebel. A "yes" would destroy his influence with many of the people.

Mat 22:19

Such coins were uncommon in Palestine. Out of deference to Jewish prejudice the Romans issued a special coinage for the Jews which had no images impressed upon it. But Roman coins came into circulation from other territories, esp at the Passover (MP 306).

Mat 22:20

WHOSE PORTRAIT... WHOSE INSCRIPTION?: Christ is the image of the invisible God (2Co 4:4; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3; Joh 1:14).

Mat 22:21

CAESAR'S: This denarius had on it the head of the emperor, and therefore, though the Jews used it in ordinary commercial transactions, it could not be admitted into the temple.

GIVE TO CAESAR WHAT IS CAESAR'S, AND TO GOD WHAT IS GOD'S: See Ecc 12:13: "the whole duty of man". "The men marvelled at his answer and went away sobered by his wisdom. But his words were so much more than the astute evasion of a verbal trap. It is an answer which has come down the years to successive generations resolving the problem of divided loyalty. The kingdom of God is not of this world and secular claims only find their place after the claims of God have been met. If we interpret the demands of the state in the light of this word of Jesus we shall have few practical problems on this issue even in these complex days" (MP 306).

CAESAR... GOD: Modern governments confuse the two, putting on their money: "In God we trust". Political considerations should play no part in the gospel.

GIVE: Or "give back". The coin belonged to Caesar in the first place. Cp attitudes to riches: the extortioner (Mar 12:40,41) and the poor widow (Mar 12:42).

Mat 22:23

SADDUCEES: Who accepted only first five books, authority of Moses, but not the prophets (Elp 233).

Mat 22:29

YOU DO NOT KNOW THE SCRIPTURES: The very passage they used in their argument (Deu 25:5) taught resurrection by shadow. The duty of the goel, or kinsman-redeemer (ie, Christ!), was to raise up a "seed" (new life) in the name of the dead man (Tes 50:377).

OR THE POWER OF GOD: God's promises cannot be broken by the trivial human incident of death!

Mat 22:31

TO YOU: Not just to Moses!

Mat 22:32

I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM...: "Though he were dead, yet shall he live" (Joh 11:25).

HE IS NOT THE GOD OF THE DEAD: For God to be known through the ages as the "God" of three eternally dead men would be a mockery of His power.

Mat 22:34

SILENCED THE SADDUCEES: Like those who came to the wedding feast with no wedding garment, and were speechless: vv 11,12.

Mat 22:37

"We cannot weaken the flesh: but we can, and we must, strengthen the spirit, so that it may subdue and control, the flesh. To begin with, we are all flesh: 'fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind,' like the beast of the field, knowing nothing better or higher. We build the strength of the spirit by the intense love of God. There is no other way. And love of God, in effective strength, comes by much study and meditation on His Word. The one great command of life is: 'Love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart, ALL thy mind, ALL thy life, and ALL thy strength.' This is not a command in the ordinary sense of a requirement by someone else for their purposes and benefit. Rather it is divine loving advice on the only possible way of escape out of death into life. An intense, life-dominating love of God is the only power in the universe that can overcome the flesh, and the promise of God's glorious eternal future is only to 'him that overcometh' " (GVG).

Mat 22:39

AND THE SECOND IS LIKE IT: In other words, the two are really ONE commandment! "When asked which was the greatest of the commandments, he replied that it was the fact that God is one. He saw the unity of God as a commandment that elicited action; and he says that this plus the command to love our neighbour is the [singular] great commandment. He quoted two commandments as one, so deeply had he perceived that we can't claim to love God without loving our brother. How had he worked that out? Perhaps by daily reflecting upon what to many was merely a ritual saying of words. And we too read and have pass our lips, ideas which can work radical transformation in us if only we will put meaning into the words and reflect upon them" (DH).

Mat 22:40

The ancient rabbi Samlai stated that Moses gave 613 commandments, and that David reduced these to 11 commandments (ie Psa 15). Further, he stated that Isaiah reduced the 11 to 6 (Isa 33:15). What he could not mention, of course, was that Jesus was to summarize all the law in only two commandments (Mat 22:40).

THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS: That is, the whole of the OT (Mat 5:17).

Mat 22:44

UNTIL: See Lesson, AN, Conditional deferment.

Mat 22:45

It was an established principle of Jewish thought: the son could never be greater than the father.

Mat 22:46

NO ONE DARED TO ASK HIM ANY MORE QUESTIONS: This marks the end of the "examination" of Jesus during the four days that the Passover lamb was kept up -- from the 10th to the 14th of the month. It is recorded in both other accounts: Mat 22:46; Mark 12:34; Luke 20:40.

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